SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY (click to expand)
CUNNINGHAM (in development) (feature length, 2018)
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CUNNINGHAM follows Merce’s artistic evolution and his struggles over three decades of risk and discovery (1944–1972), from his early years as a struggling dancer in New York City to his emergence as one of the most visionary choreographers in the world. Misunderstood by the dance world of his time, Merce persevered against all odds and developed a new dance technique and a new way of thinking in collaboration with his friends – composer John Cage and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg. 3D technology weaves together Merce's dances, philosophies and stories, creating a visceral journey into the choreographer's world.
The film features 12 Cunningham dancers, the last generation to be trained by Merce himself. Robert Swinston, who worked at Mr. Cunningham’s side for thirty-one years and who directed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's final world tour, is the director of choreography. Jennifer Goggans, who danced with MCDC for twelve years, serves as Mr. Swinston’s associate.
CUNNINGHAM is produced by Chance Operations - USA and Arsam International - France. It is currently supported by Le Centre National du Cinéma (France), The Rockefeller Foundation and Dance Films Association, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, IFP Minneapolis and IFP New York, VFX production house La Maison (France), individual investors and donors. Stephanie Dillon is the Executive Producer.
The Merce Cunningham Trust provided the Master License for all the dances to be featured in the film.
The project was an OFFICIAL SELECTION of the CINEMART at the Rotterdam Film Festival 2015, Netherlands and of Film London Production Finance Market, London, UK 2015. It received THE MOST PROMISING FILM OF THE YEAR award at the 3D Film Market and Festival (3DFM) 2013, in Liege, Belgium.
LET ME CHANGE YOUR NAME (in development)
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LET ME CHANGE YOUR NAME is a narrative feature, set in Seoul. This black comedy tells a story of one weekend in the life of a rebellious Korean woman-choreographer in crisis. It unfolds in the dream-like atmosphere of music, dance and theatrical magic and its poetry lies in the fact that all the main cast are physical performers rather than conventional actors. The film is largely inspired by works of Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn and draws from her 20-year dance theatre repertoire.
AFRO PROMO #1 KINGLADY (10', 2016) (editor)
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A pseudo recipe – manifesto about becoming a Black-African-Man-Woman superhero, directed by Nora Chipaumire.
NEW LONDON CALLING (10', 2010)
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An unsupervised tribe of 75 children take over the entire city of New London, creating their rites and rituals through playing street games. Their vibrant spirit evokes hopes for the future but also melancholy about the glorious past of children culture disappearing from the streets of American cities.
Awards: Director's Choice Award", Black Maria Festival; GRAND PRIX, Sports and TV Festival, Cinema Category, Milan, Italy; Applauses from the Adult Jury Award, Young About Film Festival, Bologna, Italy; NOMINATED FOR THE Peer Raben Music Award, SoundTrack_Cologne Festival, Germany; Honorable Mention, Napolidanza, Italy
Selected Screenings: Berlin International Directors Lounge, Festival International du Film sur l'Art (FIFA), Montreal, Canada; Loikka Dance Film Festival, Helsinki, Finland; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA; Lisbon International Independent Film Festival; Dance Camera West, Los Angeles, USA; Asolo International Art Festival, Italy; Janela Internacional de Cinema do Recife, Recife, Brazil; Opera Estate, Bassano, Italy; Dance:FILM, Ediburgh, UK; Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Youth; Children's Film Festival, Bangladesh; Children's Film Festival Seattle; Cairo International Film Festival for Children, Egypt; San Francisco Dance Film Festival; Ashland Independent Film Festival, Ashland.
MY PERESTROIKA (86', 2010) (editor)
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MY PERESTROIKA, a documentary by Robin Hessman, follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times – from their sheltered Soviet childhood, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia.
In this film, there are no “talking head” historians, no expert witnesses, no omniscient narrator telling viewers how to interpret events. Instead, Borya, Lyuba, Andrei, Olga and Ruslan share their personal stories. They were the last generation of Soviet children brought up behind the Iron Curtain. They take us on a journey through their Soviet childhoods, their youth during the country’s huge changes of Perestroika, and let us into their present-day lives.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS.
NORA (36', 2008)
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NORA is commissioned by the Experimental Media Performance Art Center (Troy, NY). It is directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton and choreographed by Nora Chipaumire. It is based on true stories of Nora, who was born in Zimbabwe in 1965. In the film, she returns to the landscape of her childhood and takes a journey through some vivid memories of her youth. Using performance and dance, she brings her history to life in a swiftlymoving poem of sound and image. Shot entirely on location in Southern Africa, NORA includes a multitude of local performers and dancers of all ages, from young schoolchildren to ancient grandmothers, and much of the music is specially composed by a legend of Zimbabwean music Thomas Mapfumo.
NORA has been presented at over 120 festivals as well as at MOMA, LOUVRE and TATE MODERN. It represented the US at the International Television Broadcasters Conference INPUT 2011 in Seoul, Korea and received 30 awards in every kind of genre (fiction, documentary, video art). It was broadcast on ARTE/ZDF, PBS, TV3 (Spain), NRK (Norway) and SVT (Sweden).
'...this gorgeous dance-poem... has startling color, vigorous movements and gestures, and a deep understanding of the power of a face to transfix...exquisite details.' – DENVER POST
'...dream-like recollections and vivid hues produce a rich and deeply satisfying film.' – BROOKLYN RAIL
'NORA...succeeds in combining a rough personal narrative with poetic, allusive imagery.' – NEW YORK TIMES
TRACES OF THE TRADE: A STORY FROM THE DEEP NORTH (86', 2008)
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In the feature documentary TRACES OF THE TRADE: A STORY FROM THE DEEP NORTH, filmmaker Katrina Browne discovers that her New England ancestors were the largest slavetrading family in U.S. history. She and nine cousins retrace the Triangle Trade and gain powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide.
TRACES OF THE TRADE premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS. It also received an Emmy nomination.
MOVEMENT (R)EVOLUTION AFRICA (65', 2007)
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MOVEMENT (R)EVOLUTION AFRICA is directed by Joan Frosch and Alla Kovgan. In an astonishing exposition of choreographic fomentation, nine African choreographers tell stories of an emergent art form and their diverse and deeply contemporary expressions of self. Stunning choreography and riveting critiques challenge stale stereotypes of "traditional Africa" to unveil soulshaking responses to the beauty and tragedy of 21st century Africa.
"the film is a knockout" – Village Voice, January 2007
"... Movement (R)evolution Africa...summates all the riches and frustrations of Africa and the festival itself. Through interviews and performances from nine African choreographers, directors Joan Frosch and Alla Kovgan reveal how a community of artists has chosen to communicate the myriad passions and troubles of their homeland through dance. Revering the body as a form of fluid sculpture, these fierce artists from across the continent adapt conventional dance to their unique sense of self, hoping to engage with everyone – whites and the African diaspora alike – in order to challenge the West's stereotypical ideas of Africa. Movement is their voice and it screams in the film, "Africa must speak!" – Village Voice, April 2007 (African Film Festival)
MOVEMENT (R)EVOLUTION AFRICA premiered at Dance on Camera Film Festival in Lincoln Center, New York and was broadcast on ARTE/ZDF.
Awards: Best Dance Film Award – Cyprus Intl. Film Festival; Best Fine Art Film – Black International Film Festival, Berlin, Germany
Selected screenings: African Film Festival, New York;); Montreal Film Festival (Canada); San Francisco Intl. Arts Festival (Museum of the African Diaspora); International Arts Festival, Salamanca, Spain; Cinedans Festival, Amsterdam (Netherlands); Parnu Documentary Film Festival (Estonia); Globians Documentary Film Festival, Potsdam, Germany; Dança Em Foco Festival 2007(Brazil); Milano Documentary Film Festival (Italy)
The film is distributed by the Documentary Educational Resources; please visit www.der.org.
TERPSYCHORE'S CAPTIVES II (52', 2005) (co-producer)
TERPSICHORE’S CAPTIVES II (52', 2005) is a broadcast documentary directed by Efim Reznikov and produced by Alla Kovgan and Efim Reznikov . Shot in a verité style, the film reveals the mysteries and impact of the collaborative process between two established artists who come from two very different cultures and dance lineages – Natasha Balachnicheva, the prima ballerina of Moscow’s Kremlin Ballet and Bill T. Jones, one of the most renowned contemporary dance choreographers in the United States.
Awards: Golden Hugo Award, Intercom Competition, Chicago International Film Festival 2006
Selected Screenings: Flahertiana Documentary Festival 2006, Perm’; Russia; NIKA Awards Competition, 2006; Dance on Camera Festival – New York (USA) 2007; Festival of Films on Art (Canada) 2007; TVTS Russian TV, broadcast April 2007; INPUT “New Dynamics for Public Television”, Spain 2007
TOUCH (7.5', 2003)
TOUCH (7.5’, video, 2003) is a collaboration between choreographer Victoria Marks and filmmaker Alla Kovgan. Touch in extreme closeup is like a form of reverence, a prayer. Four different couples, a preadolescent AfricanAmerican boy and girl, an elderly white man and woman, a blind Hispanic man and woman, and two middleaged white men cross paths in the space created through touch. An ode to a particular formulation of intimacy or a deeply subjective phenomena that birngs discomfort for each of us to discover...
Selected Screenings: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2003; ReelDance Intl. Dance on Screen Festival, Australia and New Zealand, 2004; Videodance, 2004, Athens and Thessalonica, Greece; Fedame, 2009, Mexico; Napolidanza, 2004, Italy; “Echo Arts” Festival, Cyprus, 2005; Festival Internacional de Video Danza, Argentina, 2005; CAPTURED Series, Dance Theatre Workshop, New York, 2006.
ARCUS (4.5', 2003)
ARCUS (4’, video, 2003) is by Alla Kovgan and Jeff Silva in collaboration with the choreographer Nicola Hawkins and sound designer Seth Barger. ARCUS is an exploration of ephemeral nature of movement – a black and white collage of dance and motion frames. The title ARCUS is derived from Latin meaning a bow or arch like shape. Its name was inspired by the manner in which the frames of the video image move and emerge from within each other while the dancers bodies bend and twist inside the frame.
"Arcus", a black and white short with a finely honed trajectory... starts with actual dancers who disappear into abstracted images. ...you lose the dancers but you don’t lose the dance." – danceviewtimes.com
A little bit more about the film:
Hans Richter, an experimental filmmaker from Germany, stated that "by taking the whole movie screen, pressing it together and opening it up, top, bottom, sides, right, left, you do not perceive form anymore, you perceive movement." Following Richter's insight in arcus, we not only experimented with partitioning "movie screen" itself but also introduced dance movement within the parts. While working on this piece, we treated the "movie screen" as a threedimensional canvas in motion. We did not think about the choreography per se but rather about its kinetic qualities. Our challenge was to discover the relationships between the moving parts of the screen and dance movements within the parts, between dark and light, the sound and image. The result turned out to be an exploration of ephemeral nature of movement.
Awards: Special Jury Mention: Dance On Camera Festival, 2004, New York; Napolidanza 2004
Screenings / Exhibitions / Broadcast (partial list):
- Anthology Film Archive Tour in Paris 2003
- The American Dance Festival: Dancing for the Camera 2003, Durham, North Carolina
- Festival of New Dance, 2003, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada
- Portals: The Floating Cinema, 2003, Prospect Park Lake, Brooklyn, New York
- Videodance, 2003, Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece
- Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video, 2003, Toronto, Canada
- “Occurrences: the performative space of video" Exhibition, December 11, 2003 - February 13, 2004, Betty Rymer Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago
- Festiwal KinoTanca, 2003, Lodz, Poland
- Dance Theatre Workshop CAPTURED series 2003, New York City, NY
- Black Maria Film Festival 2003, New Jersey, USA
- TTV Festival Performing Arts on Screen 2004, Bologna, Italy
- Dance on Camera West, 2004, Los Angeles, CA
- Cultural Art Project Noass, 2004, Riga, Latvia
- “Occurrences: the performative space of video" Exhibition, September 17 - October 8, 2004, Gallerie Soleil, Lexington, Kentucky
- “Exchange Routes” Project 2005, Teater Utan Kayu, Jakarta, Indonesia
- “Echo Arts” Festival, Cyprus, 2005
- “IMZ Dancescreen” Festival, Brighton, UK, 2005
- DANSCAMDANSE Festival, Ghent, Belgium, 2005
- FIVU05, Dance Film Festival, Uruguay, 2005
- “Territoris”, 13episode TV series, TV3, Spain, 12month broadcast 2006
- “Straight to the Helicopter Series”, curated by Anna Brady Nuse, Brooklyn, 2006
- “Innovative International Dance Programs” curated by Charlotte Shoemaker, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2006
- “DanzLenz”, New Delhi, India, 2006
- Caixaforum Festival and Mediateca, Barcelona, Spain, 20062007
- “Dance Screen,” Brighton, UK, 2007
- LIVE SCREEN Lilian Baylis Theatre, London, UK, 2008;
- SALA PARPALLÓ, Valencia, Spain, 2008
AFRICAN DANCE: SAND, DRUM AND SHOSTAKOVICH (70', 2002)
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AFRICAN DANCE: SAND, DRUM, AND SHOSTAKOVICH is a documentary by Ken Glazebrook and Alla Kovgan exploring contemporary dance in Africa. The film introduces eight modern dance companies from Africa, Europe, and Canada that participated in the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse in Montreal, Canada in 1999. Through insightful interviews and outstanding performances, the film depicts a fascinating diversity of themes in contemporary African dance – interactions between tradition and modernism, consequences of colonization and urbanization, women’s self-expression, masculinity, and family relationships. The film is a unique source of inspiration for audiences of all ages and specifically dancers, choreographers, dance historians, critics, and all those interested in African culture.
The film is distributed by the Documentary Educational Resources: http://www.der.org
SURFACE (9', 2000)
SURFACE by Alla Kovgan and Alissa Cardone is inspired by “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. The quality of images and shifting sound divide the inside and the outside. It is a journey of spirit through the struggle between forces of isolation and connection, oppression and release, the hidden and the revealed. Sound: Tatsuya Nakatani
'.. expressive images...shape an intensely personal response to the evanescent presence of Anne Frank. Instead of documenting history, this experimental film leads us into reverie.' – Linda Dittmar, Boston Jewish Film Festival Critical Essays
Selected Screenings: Rencontres International Paris – Berlin, 2003; Boston Jewish Film Festival 2002; Boston Underground Film and Video Festival 2001
ACHING (10', 1999)
ACHING (10 min, 16mm, color, 1999) came out of a silent protest against violence and war as a way for conflict resolution. The film was created in response to the recent war in Yugoslavia. Through the union of sound, light and movements of a human body the film tells an imaginative story of a woman experienced a state of being a target on the bridge. It stars a modern dancer, Alissa Cardone and is layered with complex sounds created by Tatsuya Nakatani, Vic Rawlings and Jonathan LaMaster.
"I found it [Aching] to be “un vrai film"…” – John Gianvito, Curator, Harvard Film Archive
Selected Screenings: Festival Internacional de Video Danza (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2001), Napolidanza (Napoli, Italy, 2000), Dance on Camera (New York, 2000), EuroUnderground Film Festival 2000 (Krakow, Poland and touring program), East Art Gallery Film Festival 2000 (Balatonfured, Hungary), Boston Underground Film Festival 2000, "Misguided Again", multimedia performance, Mobius Gallery (Boston, USA, 1999)
BELONGINGS (21', 1998)
BELONGINGS (21 min, S8 to 16mm, color, experimental, 1998) is a hybrid of visual mediums 16mmsuper8mm, video (projections), and original sound created by Jonathan LaMaster, Vic Rawlings, James Coleman, John Voight, Liz Tonne, and Daniel Carter. In the center of the film is a woman who is a stranger to her surroundings. She finds peace only in an abandoned studio that guards a mysterious construction of reflective materials. The reflections inspire her memories of dear people, books and paintings, provoking yearning for connection, harmony, peace and niche to belong.
'Alla Kovgan's Belongings, a talented local work ... with really exquisite poetic moments of visuals and sound.' – Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix
Awards: The Best of Boston Underground Film Festival 1999; Honorable Mention of Antimatter Film Festival 1999 (Victoria, BC, Canada).